30 Nov GS 1986 art 104
GS 1986 ARTICLE 104
Re Article 35, Church Order
Committee 3 presents:
– Agenda VIII, F, 1 Letter of br. E. Witten of Burlington, ON.
- 1. Br. Witten appeals the decision of 1983 Synod Cloverdale (Acts. Art. 91) to change the last sentence of Art. 35, Church Order, “Furthermore his office (of president) shall cease when the assembly has ended,” and to adopt a new version, which reads, “In major assemblies the office of the president shall cease when the assembly has ended.”
- 2. Br. Witten is convinced that not only in major assemblies the office of president should cease when the assembly has ended, but also in the consistory.
- 3. Br. Witten adduces the following grounds:
- a. Our sister-churches in the Netherlands and Australia found no reason to change the last sentence of Article 35, C.O., when revising their Church Order.
- b. This sentence is called the most important parts of Art. 35 and it is based on an old tradition going back to the first General Synods of the reformed churches in the Netherlands, 1571, 1581.
- c. This stipulation is made to prevent hierarchy, but the present version may lead to hierarchy.
- d. The fact that the consistory is a permanent body does not imply that also the function of president is a permanent one.
- 4. The Committee of Revision of the Church Order recommended to the 1983 Synod to delete the sentence that the office of president ceases when the assembly has been ended.
- 5. From the Acts of the 1983 Synod (Art. 91) it appears that br. E. Witten (and others) requested synod “to retain the sentence, ‘Furthermore his office shall cease when the assembly has ended.’ “
- 6. The 1983 Synod considers that fear is expressed “that exclusion of this part of the article will lead to some form of hierarchy or to the creation of permanent ‘higher’ bodies or offices.”
- The sentence could be maintained as follows, “In major assemblies the office of the president shall cease when the assembly ends.”
- The Committee for Revision does not consider this addition “objectionable.” The 1983 Synod adopted this addition.
- 1. Although our sister-churches in the Netherlands and Australia indeed have found no reason to change the last sentence of Art. 35 in their Church Order, from the report of our Committee for Correspondence with Churches Abroad (Section IV and V) it appears that the present stipulation in our Art. 35 C.O. does not meet with any objection from these churches.
- 2. The clause in Article 35 that the office of the president ceases when the assembly has ended is based on an old tradition and has been called “most important,” however, this was mostly said with a view to the office of the president in a major assembly.
- 3. The 1983 Cloverdale Synod did maintain that in major assemblies the office of president ceases when the assembly ends, but this synod saw apparently no dangers of “hierarchy” and “permanent ‘higher’ offices” when this is not stipulated for the office of president of the consistory.
- 4. Br. Witten did not prove that when a consistory in accordance with Article 38, C.O.. appoints the minister (or, in the absence of a minister, another member of the consistory) as the one who will preside the meetings of the consistory and also grants him a certain function for the time in between meetings of the consistory (as signing of documents, representation, etc.), this leads to “hierarchy” or “permanent ‘higher’ offices” in the church.
- 5. The consistory of a church is a “permanent body” composed of the ministers of the Word and the elders, who as a rule shall meet once a month (Art. 38, C.O.). It is not in conflict with the reformed character of the Church Order when the consistory also allows the president to represent the consistory and authorizes him to fulfill other duties on behalf of the consistory in the time between the meetings of the consistory.
- Not to grant the request.
The recommendation is ADOPTED.